Not since college have had been immersed in gender politics like I have recently. It’s weird that in the twenty plus years since I experienced diversity debates in college, the arguments haven’t changed. I think it’s because the young people who come up in the freethought movement discover biases based on gender and feel that this is one injustice they can overcome. I have to admit that I’m white and I have a penis – so what! I think we all need to work on those issue we can solve together and acknowledge that we can’t be perfect. I’m not going to pick a side and I’m not going to apologize for being white and male.
What sparked this blog post is the STILL burning Atheism+/gender identity storm in the freethought community. Each side of the debate are doing purity checks and using extreme gender politics in an effort to make a utopia in their own image. Instead of using our tools to make a better world all freethinkers, both sides want to burn down our own house and rebuild it how they assume it should look – opposing view points be damned.
Al Stefanelli, and atheist and civil rights activist expressed a view that I share:
With that said, I feel the need to point out that I am, in fact, mostly white and I am a male. There are those in our community who are bent on trying to get me to feel guilty about this, as if I am somehow responsible for all the horrible things that other members of my people group have perpetrated over the millennia toward minorities. I cannot help that I was born with light skin and with a penis. I will not apologize for these things, nor will I allow anyone to convince me that the concept of privilege has more to do with how someone was born than how someone behaves or perceives themselves among their fellow humans.
So, here’s two things to consider. One, I am not sorry for who or what I am. I was born with the physical attributes that I have. I am white, and that’s that. I am male, and my sexual orientation is such that I do not have a desire to change that. If someone does, I totally and completely support them. Given my reasoning that gender and sexual orientation are very likely genetic, I believe that nobody should be deprived of being the person they were born as.
As well, if my mere existence as a male is something that makes someone of whatever gender nervous, this is not my problem. No, really, it’s not. It’s their problem, and this is not to diminish in any way the horrors that someone who has been raped has to deal with, and will have to deal with likely for the rest of their lives – both males and females. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, not even a pedophile. But if a person is a stranger to me, or has not otherwise informed me that they have been raped, I have no way of knowing. This goes for any crime that has been committed against another human being, of which there are many. Thus, I cannot and will not go through life existing with the perception that I am a perceived danger to everyone else. If I did, I would either never leave my house, or end up crossing the street a lot.
People who believe all men are potential rapists and who suggest there should be strict policies or laws to control men are really no better than white racists during the Jim Crow era who saw all black men as a potential rapist of white women – needing to be more controlled than even the women of the day.
I’m white and I have a penis – there is nothing I can do about that. I am who I am. I have always judged people on their actions or what they say in public and adjusted my support according to my Humanism and desire for social justice for all.
I have never once considered raping a woman and if that thought ever crossed my mind I know the women in my family would personally kill me and they would take me to the wood shed if I was ever disrespectful toward women or any minority.
I have met and still notice a number of atheists who are, in my view, complete assholes – men and women. It has less to do with gender and more with behavior.
That’s why I’m bothered by this whole gender drama in the freethought movement. My non-belief is more important than my gender but it seems right now some people feel gender is more important. I want to see all people in the movement to feel comfortable and welcome but I WILL NOT apologize or be marginalized because I am a white male.
The real enemy is the religious right and other authoritarian religions. We need to all get along and work for better treatment of all atheists and freethinkers every where.
We are wasting time with the current battle of gender politics.